Norwegian Cruise Line Wants an Answer from the CDC

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings today sent a reminder letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting a response to the company’s previously submitted plan to resume cruise operations from U.S. ports in July.

“Over the past year we have worked tirelessly and invested heavily to create a path to resume cruise operations including enlisting the guidance of the nation’s top scientific and public health experts. We are confident that with our science-backed SailSAFE program, we will offer a uniquely safe and healthy vacation experience which protects our guests, crew and communities we visit,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which operates the Norwegian, Oceania and Regent brands. 

“We strongly believe our proposal submitted to the CDC 10 days ago, which includes mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew, offers a safe and immediate solution to resume cruising and eliminates the need for the obsolete CSO (Conditional Sailing Order), which in its current form is impossible to operationalize and more importantly ignores the advancement of vaccines.

“Our proposal goes well above and beyond the intent of the CSO and would greatly accelerate the path to resume cruising while freeing up the CDC’s valuable time and resources, allowing it to focus on its many other competing public health priorities,” Del Rio continued. “I continue to await further discussion with the CDC and I am respectfully requesting a prompt response to my written proposal to recommence cruising in July allowing us to join America’s national reopening.” 

The company, in a press release, said it strongly believes that by requiring mandatory vaccinations for guests and crew on initial voyages, in addition to comprehensive protocols including universal COVID-19 testing, the plan shares in the spirit and exceeds the intent of the CDC’s CSO to advance mutual public health goals and protect guests, crew and the communities visited.

The press release said the company continues to be optimistic the CDC will agree that this plan eliminates the need for the CSO and therefore, strongly requests the lifting of the order for Norwegian’s vessels, allowing them to cruise from U.S. ports starting July 4.

Full Letter:

April 15, 2021

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky
Director, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30329-4027

Re: Our plan to join America’s national opening this summer

Dear Dr. Walensky:

Last Monday, April 5, 2021, I submitted a proposal to you outlining Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.’s (“NCLH”) plan to resume cruise operations from U.S. ports this July. Our plan includes our multi-layered SailSAFETM Health and Safety Program developed in conjunction with globally recognized experts, including the blue-ribbon Healthy Sail Panel led by former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt and former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

NCLH shares your view that vaccinations are the primary vehicle for Americans to get back to their everyday lives while containing the spread of the virus. As such, our robust science-backed plan combines mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew with multiple additional layers of preventative protocols, including universal COVID-19 testing.

The safety and security of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our number one priority. We recognize that our stringent vaccination requirements will temporarily preclude certain of our key guest demographics from purchasing cruises on our brands, including families with passengers under 15 years of age, but we believe this is the safest and most effective way to cruise in the current public health environment.

It is frustrating, that to date, we have yet to receive even an acknowledgment of this proposal. I do recognize that you have many important public health issues to tend to and was reticent to even write, however, we strongly believe our proposal should be the model for how the travel and hospitality industry operates in a COVID-19 environment. Our industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributes billions of dollars to this country’s economy and is certainly deserving of your time and attention.

As you know, our industry had a meeting with your office on Monday, and while we appreciate the dialogue, our proposal was not addressed. Going forward, we understand the industry may be having regular meetings with your office but remain concerned that such meetings produce the nonexistent results they have had since last year. While abiding by science and data, as the CDC normally does, you lend a fresh perspective to this issue. Our sincerest hope is that you, and the entire Biden-Harris Administration, allow us to responsibly cruise again.

Accordingly, I respectfully request a prompt response to my written proposal. Americans look forward to cruising once again and we look forward to relaunching our ships on as timely a basis as possible and restoring American jobs.

Sincerely,

Frank Del Rio
President and CEO
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

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